Cllr Joanna Byrne: Windmill Road Residents Deserve Better

                         Cllr Joanna Byrne & Windmill Rd Residents


Last week’s Municipal District meeting of Drogheda saw a furious Joanna Byrne take the council officials to task over the delay of implementing ‘Resident’s Only’ parking on the Windmill Rd. 

Demanding answers on the delay, the Sinn Féin councillor also slammed Louth County Council for failing to engage with the residents of the area at any stage throughout the process.

Cllr Byrne said, “Following a long , hard-fought campaign by the residents of the Windmill Road area, the committee were here on 2nd September to witness the passing of the amended Bye-Laws which would see the introduction of Resident’s Only parking on the West Side of the street and an increased rate of parking fees on the rest of the street. This increase would reflect the rates of the Hospital car-park to encourage visitors to utilise that facility and therefore relieve congestion on the Windmill Road. This was given a commencement date of October 10th.

“Over a month later, no such Residents Only parking has been introduced. Ironically though, the increased parking rates have.”

Cllr Byrne was advised by a Council Engineer present at the municipal meeting, that the delay was due to the signage not arriving on time although it had been ordered, and the Residents Parking Only would be implemented in due course when it arrives.

Cllr Byrne said “Delays happen with orders, that I understand, but here we are a month later and not one level of engagement or communication has been fed down to the residents to inform them of this. We are now entering the winter season which unfortunately always leads to a busier hospital, all the residents here can see is congestion building, increased parking rates and no sign of their parking being introduced. After the hard work and perseverance they put into this campaign, frankly they deserve a lot better from Louth County Council.”

Cllr Byrne who worked closely with the residents of Windmill Road on this campaign urged the Council to follow up on the signage as a matter of urgency and to “not let this drag into another month before any work commences.”

Cllr Flood slams removal of North Strand Parking Spaces.

Kenneth with local resident Mr Brady

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has slammed Louth County Council for removing parking spaces from the North Strand without prior notice or consultation.

Cllr Flood said “I have been pursuing the issue of parking for residents on the North Strand with Louth County Council. When I met with officials in the parking sub-committee in April I was given a figure of 32 parking spaces on the North Strand. At a subsequent meeting, that figure was reduced to 24 at the request of the Port Company.”

Cllr Flood said that “although we have had several parking specific meetings this year with the Chief Executive around all of the parking issues in Drogheda, the number of parking spaces, without consideration, consultation or notice, has now been reduced to just 9, with double yellow lines having been recently marked to remove parking.”

Cllr Flood has written to the Chief Executive expressing his dissatisfaction with this decision and has asked for alternative parking spaces to be provided for residents.

“I have also contacted the council’s Operations Department to see if anything can be done to alleviate parking problems for residents. When Mr Brady, ([pictured) contacted me regarding the removal of spaces on his street, he had already received several parking tickets because he now has nowhere to properly park his car near his
home. The residents of North Strand were not considered at all by Louth County Council and the fact that we the Councillors were not informed of this decision, throughout the lengthy consultation process on Drogheda’s Parking is another slap in the face that I do not intend to stand for.”

“I will be pursuing this matter until it is resolved to the resident’s satisfaction.”

Cllr Kenneth Flood – We couldn’t prolong the parking pain

At a special meeting on the parking bye-laws this evening in Drogheda, Sinn Féin Councillors voted to end the parking pain that has plagued Drogheda since March this year.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Kenneth Flood said “To be absolutely 100% Crystal Clear , the Sinn Féin group are in favour of €1 parking rates in parts of Drogheda. However, if we had proposed that tonight the parking bye-laws would have had to go back out to public consultation and the current no fee parking debacle would continue for several more months.”

“Businesses have told us they will not survive much longer as their trade has dropped 40% – 50% since the pay parking regime in Drogheda fell. Residents around Windmill Road , Cord Road and elsewhere cannot park anywhere near their houses. That would continue for several more months if we had not passed the parking bye-laws tonight.”

“It was a hard call but we had to make it to end the current parking nightmare for residents and businesses alike. We spoke in favour of the €1 fee this evening. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“We have now finished 1 of 3 parking specific special meetings with the Chief Executive to resolve all of the parking issues that face Drogheda. The parking fee is firmly on the agenda among other just as important issues.  We are not interested in a single issue to grab a headline, we are interested in a long-term solution to the parking fiasco. We want to and we’re going to sort out all of the parking issues that face Drogheda.”

“I must reiterate, we could not in good conscience prolong this disaster by months knowing that we had another option, through the special meetings, to address the parking fees.”

Cllr Byrne: Drogheda Parking Issue Dismissed with a Shoulder Shrug

The issue of parking remains to be a bone of contention in Drogheda especially around the Lourdes Hospital. At April’s Drogheda Municipal meeting the issue was raised and it was agreed that it should be ‘addressed urgently by the Council and the HSE’. The same issue subsequently dominated a special sitting of the parking committee made up of members and officials from Louth County Council some two weeks later.

As a result of the frustrations of the members over the heightened congestion in the area, and the concern’s raised by local residents in the vicinity the then Director of Service’s for Operations, Catherine Duff, under took to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE to discuss options to maximise the use of their own HSE carpark on both the Crosslanes and indeed on the hospital grounds also, with a view to alleviating some of the congestion in the surrounding areas.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, at this month’s Municipal meeting sought an update on the issue.

An outraged Joanna Byrne said “I only discovered that no such meeting has taken place, but it hadn’t even been requested. In the interim Catherine Duff has been replaced by Willie Walsh as the Director and he simply shrugged his shoulders stating that he didn’t ‘deem it necessary’ as the local authority would have no control over the actions of the HSE and he could not guarantee any co-operation from them.”

This was like a red rag to a bull to Cllr Byrne who replied to him, “With all due respect Mr. Walsh, we are sitting here six weeks later from when this was requested and agreed to by the members, you yourself sat at the subsequent parking meeting where we delved into this in some depth and now you are telling us that you do not deem it necessary? Whether you deem it necessary or not is simply irrelevant. It is complete disregard on your part for previous agreements made on such an important issue, and complete disregard for the will of the members. I am re-iterating the request that this meeting is sought immediately and a report on the same circulated to the members. I do not wish to return again next month to the same laidback, uninterested approach from officials on this matter!”

Following the meeting, Cllr Byrne wrote to the Director of Services expressing her dissatisfaction that there was no follow through on this, especially considering the parking issues that is troubling all of the constituents of Drogheda at present, once again laying down her expectations that officials get on board with the members and endeavour to work with them in fixing this debacle.

Joanna Byrne – Drogheda Debacle Extended by Another Month

At last Wednesday’s special sitting of the Municipal District of Drogheda, the Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin met with the Drogheda Councillors to discuss the proposed new draft pay parking bye-laws.

On March 5th the Chief Executive immediately suspended pay-parking charges in Drogheda stating that the bye-laws were missing commencement dates and following legal advice that morning they were deemed unsatisfactory. This move plunged Drogheda into a parking nightmare.

At the time of doing this the Chief Executive indicated she expected to call a special meeting within a week with proposed new bye-laws to be agreed to go out onto public consultation, starting a three month statutory process. This meeting did not take place for a further four weeks.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne led the charge at this meeting. “I wanted to know the reason for the delay and queried that if it was only the commencement dates missing from the previous bye-laws, surely it would not take four weeks to draft a new set to include the commencement date. I let the Chief Executive know that the delay fell on her lap, and in delaying the way she did, she added an additional month of disarray onto the people of Drogheda to the initial three month timeframe given for a resolution.”

Speaking the following morning on local radio Cllr Byrne stated that “a month of this chaos could have been avoided, had there been some forward planning”. She deemed the initial suspension of charges a ‘knee-jerk reaction’ from the CEO and indicated that the suspension should have been held off until the new bye-laws were drafted and ready to be put out to consultation.

“Businesses, traders, workers, residents, hospital patients, the list is endless of the people massively impacted by the current chaos. If this could have been avoided for another four weeks, it should have been, there was no thought given to the people of this town and the impact it would have on them.”

The Drogheda Councillors, despite requests, have not been furnished with the legal advice that prompted this move in the first place. Cllr Byrne felt “maybe there was more than commencement dates omitted from the previous set of bye-laws, maybe this was the reason for the delay in drafting the new ones, but the only response given to me by Ms.Martin was that the reason for the delay was that she wanted to ensure that the new ones were indeed this time around satisfactory and they ‘would stand-up’, here’s hoping.”

At the same meeting Cllr Joanna Byrne and her Sinn Féin Colleague’s opposed a motion by Cllr Kevin Callan to reduce the parking rates from €1.20 p/h to €1 p/h.

Cllr Byrne stated “I did not necessarily disagree with Cllr Callan’s motion and we will be considering this proposal in the four week timeframe now given for submissions on these draft bye-laws, but prior to making a submission, I wanted to consider other options discussed including reductions in rates for areas suffering low footfall, or reductions in rates for off-peak days, options that would encourage trade and life to struggling areas of the town. The parking committee is to debate this over the coming week, following that we will be making a submission to reflect the outcome of that meeting.”

“I also want to delve further into the implications of the loss of revenue of such a reduction in parking rates. A loss of revenue in the region of €190k per annum from the proposed reduction is bound to result in cuts to some vital services to the people of this community. The Chief executive assured members that she could match this loss herself and it would not impact on this year’s budget, I wouldn’t be so confident about this, and there was certainly no assurance’s regarding the budget’s for next year and the years to follow. These are all issues that deserve our time and thought before any motions are passed or decisions made.”